Squash Manager Mark Toseland: Wrapped up in books, and more

East Glos squash manager Mark Toseland has been using his time wisely during lockdowns.

Mark Toseland

Mark writes, for the third time within a year, we’re in another lockdown where we cannot play the sports or engage in the activities that we well and truly love doing.

We’re finding out new ways of engaging with other people and keeping ourselves entertained so that we feel there is some meaning beyond just waiting for how things used to be.

The juniors and the people I coach and work with have certainly been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve been thinking about how best to engage with them to keep them happy when social interaction is very much limited.

We have run online junior engagement sessions during each lockdown with the support and encouragement from the junior squash players. That has allowed the participants to explore and explain their thoughts on the development aspects of the sport. They could also consider what it means to them personally and how they can support each other in the process.

It’s been a pleasure to watch them make sense and meaning of what they perceive is worth acting upon for their desired performances in the future. They have certainly inspired and reaffirmed why I love coaching people. Especially with the knowledge I’ve developed with my time at university and seeing the theory come into a practical flourish for my own experiences.

It is a frustrating time for us as coaches; the fact we struggle to earn a living in these times is just the smallest part of it. More so, it’s the social interactions we miss. The satisfaction we get from helping others, not only with developing their skills or game understanding but supporting them as people and offering opportunities to be more than just a ‘coach’.

We thrive on being empathetic and developing a strong sense of emotional intelligence with those we work with. I can only hope that the lockdown reduces in some way shape or form that we can start to engage in fruitful and wonderful conversations with those we really care about in the world of sport. I do miss my second home, East Glos.

On another note, I’ve been presented with a lot of time on my hands. So I’ve buried my head in books that underpin the work I’m doing with my MSc by research.

I’ve certainly spent a considerable amount reading books recently as I’m lured deeper and deeper with the enjoyment of further developing my understanding of self-determination theory that underpins my work.

At this point, I felt I wanted to help others and pass this knowledge on as well as test myself to be able to articulate it in a way that is easily understood.

What better way to do this than engage with the other coaches within the club? Steve Worsley was excellent in engaging the tennis coaches to participate with a few other guests I managed to bring along to two presentations I delivered last week.

It was great to have some of the older junior squash players alongside the East Glos tennis, hockey and squash coaches, and students that I coach at the University of Bristol.

Two personal guests, Josh Taylor, the National Performance coach for England Squash and Heidi Leseur, a non-executive director for England Squash, sat in and listened.

Mark Toseland presentation

My topic was “Creating an environment to support self-determination within your athletes: understanding coaches’ impacts on athletes basic psychological needs and why they engage in activity on a volitional basis.”

That was a review of common themes that have come out of the literature as I explore my research topic: “Exploring regional squash coaches self-awareness of their behaviours and practices that influence their participants basic psychological needs”.

Steve Worsley, East Glos Tennis Manager said, “I thought the presentation was very useful and relevant at a time when people are having to be more aware than ever of self-drive, emotional control and trying to better understand how the emotional side of the brain can be kept in a healthy state. As coaches, we are all ultimately looking to get the best out of the people we work with and with a better understanding of the psychological make up of our audience, we stand a greater chance of doing so. I liked the way Mark broke down the presentation into easy to follow models which made a lot of sense and resonated greatly from a personal point of view.”

“Thank you to Mark for putting this together and I thoroughly recommend anybody looking to enhance their knowledge to reach out and benefit from this great content.”

I hope the participants enjoyed the presentation as much as I enjoyed putting it together. They can take some meaning away from it that resonates with each person individually. Thank you for all being involved in an initial stepping stone for me in presenting my work.

Fingers crossed we can get on court soon enough; you are all very much missed as you all impact the feel and culture of the club. See you all soon.